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NZIFF 2018 breaks Wellington attendance records

The New Zealand International Film Festival (NZIFF) has broken records with 84,218 attendances, the biggest ever total for Wellington. NZIFF has exceeded the previous record set in 2017 by more than 5,000 admissions.

Embassy Theatre is the home of NZIFF in Wellington. Photo by Victoria Vincent

Wellington audiences attended 605 screenings across six venues over 20 days resulting in a record-breaking 84,218 admissions for NZIFF 2018. The previous record year was in 2017 with 79,030 admissions to the festival.

“To see audiences embrace the NZIFF experience, when competition for that attention is at an all-time high, is completely gratifying for the staff and the NZ Film Festival trustees. We pride ourselves on presenting a diverse line-up of films to entertain, to inspire, and to show us worlds we might never have the chance to otherwise experience. This growing support from Wellington audiences suggests we’re still connecting and entertaining year after year,” says NZIFF Director Bill Gosden.

“While a compelling programme has long been a key success factor, we believe our easy-to-use online ticketing system, with low booking fees, has been a major factor in our success again this year.

“We recognise that the ability to bring in our own ticketing system to manage thousands of bookings across six venues is an advantage that many other arts organisations are not able to enjoy, due to corporate ticketing contracts at many Wellington venues,” says Gosden.

Reading Cinemas were a new venue for NZIFF this year, after the closure of Paramount Theatre at the end of 2017. Formal surveying of audiences is yet to be completed but anecdotal feedback about the new venue has been overwhelmingly positive. Reading staff created a pop-up café outside the cinema for NZIFF patrons, and the venue hosted a large number of successful sell-out screenings.

Amanda Millar, director of Celia, at the world premiere of her film at NZIFF in Wellington. Photo by Victoria Vincent.

An extra four days were added to the programme to cater to demand for popular films such as Three Identical Strangers, Shoplifters, CeliaThe Guilty and Burning. One extra day of screenings is still to run this Sunday 19 August: Animation for Kids 4+ and Yellow is Forbidden will be the very final screenings of NZIFF in Wellington at the Embassy Theatre.

NZIFF is dependent on ticket sales with 90% of its income coming from tickets. The remaining 10% is made up of funder support and corporate sponsorship. The NZ Film Commission is the major supporter of NZIFF.

Wellington NZIFF 2019 dates are confirmed for Friday 26 July to Sunday 11 August 2019.

NZIFF is run by a charitable trust and encourages lively interactions between films, filmmakers and New Zealand audiences in 13 towns and cities around the country.

Leave No Trace visiting director Debra Granik and star Thomasin Harcourt-McKenzie in Wellington for NZIFF. Photo by Rebecca-McMillan.

NZIFF 2018 is currently on in Christchurch, Dunedin, Nelson, Timaru and Gore. It opens in a further six towns in late August.